Motion to support and Welcome Refugees in Wandsworth:
Speech to the full council – October 14th 2015
Cllr Dr Rosena Allin-Khan, Bedford ward
A man desperately clung on to his wife and two children as their boat capsized and they were washed away from him and onto the shores of a Turkish beach. Like driftwood.
This familiy, just like yours and mine, had hopes and dreams of a life ahead.
Sadly this is not an isolated event.
Bodies crammed into hot lorries, dangerous sea crossings and death of the most vulnerable. The UN High Commissioner for Refugees stated, ‘Syria has become the greatest tragedy of this century – a disgraceful humanitarian calamity with suffering and displacement unparalleled in recent history’
You will agree, this is a far cry from Wandsworth, “the brighter borough”…
So often, humanitarian crises offer no way for us to intervene and make a difference but sometimes, just sometimes, we can…
We should be proud to be leading the way here in Wandsworth, not sitting idly by, waiting to react to some grand announcement from up high.
Other councils have taken a stand for what is right while we sit here waiting… There are over 700 signiatures on the petition for Wandsworth to assist in accomodating families. This is just one example of Wandsworth residents proving they want us to take action.
All sides of the chamber in Merton council have come together to listen to their residents and have pledged to bring local voluntary and faith groups together to welcome refugees.
Kingston council, a conservative majority council has a bold leader in Cllr Davis.
Kingston Council was one of the first local authorities to make a commitment to accomodate 50 Syrian refugees. They used a Home Office resettlement scheme with rents paid through Housing Benefits (funded by the European Union).
Kingston council works hard with community leaders and local people to identify suitable properties. Cllr Davis wrote to other council leaders across the country to encourage them to do the same. Local communities can play a vital role in solving this humanitarian crisis.
Let it be clearly understood that there is a huge distinction between refugees and economic migrants. They are NOT THE SAME.
Our opposition colleagues may speak about housing our own residents as a priority and perhaps suggest we take refugees into our own homes, as one councillor suggested to a concerned constituent.
To be very clear, Wandsworth residents will not come second.
We are simply asking to accommodate at least 10 refugee families urgently if private accommodation is funded by central government and without displacing those on existing housing lists.
Help can go beyond housing families. There are a number of excellent voluntary and faith group organisations doing excellent work and offering support. This includes the Katherine Low settlement and Churches Together. We can make a plan to address any gaps in support, and create relationships with these groups to provide long-term support for refugee families.
I have spent years living and working in refugee camps in the Middle East. These people are strong, proud, honourable and hard working, even when living in diseased and putrid conditions. They are compelled to risk their lives because they have NO OTHER CHOICE.
If we believe in democracy and freedom, we cannot turn our back on those who seek the same for their families.
Let Little 3 year old Aylan’s death mean something. Let us act. We will go home tonight to warm beds, warm food and comfort. We have the ability to ensure that at least a few families can do the same.
Together lets take this small but significant step.
Lets Put political affiliation aside and do the right thing. Thank you.
Motion to support and accommodate refugees in Wandsworth:
We can and we should do so much more.
Speech to full Council on 14 October 2015
Cllr Fleur Anderson, Bedford Ward
Wandsworth Labour Councillors showing support for welcoming refugees in Wandsworth before the debate
Almost 100 years almost to the day there was a wonderful garden party thrown by Wandsworth residents in Southfields to welcome Belgian refugees during the First World War, with lemonade refreshments and entertainment from the girls of Putney County Secondary School. Fast forward to today and as soon as there was news of great need for clothes in the refugee camp so near us in Calais, the people of Wandsworth again showed huge spontaneous generosity and wanting to support refugees.
Like many Wandsworth residents when I saw the refugees fleeing, I knew that given different circumstances that could be me and could me my family and I wanted to do something to make a difference. We have the opportunity as Councillors to do lots of things that are very practical and help many individuals – it will be something about being a Councillor that we will look back on with pride.
Today I convened a meeting of refugee groups in the Borough to consider how we can work together better, and the Council can play more of a role in doing this, and I am glad to see that the amended motion includes this – but we could do more.
This motion really doesn’t ask for much and offered every opportunity for cross-party agreement of some small steps of support for refugees in Wandsworth and leadership in London, but the amendment is hugely disappointing and says we will do the absolute bare minimum.
To take just the pledge to give a home to 10 refugee families, if funded by central government, and supported unanimously by the Churches Together in Balham and Upper Tooting as well as so many other Wandsworth residents. Its just 10 families, and was a request to all Local Authorities by Yvette Cooper when she was Home Secretary. It could be a really meaningful figure and show that we will play our part. As Yvette Copper said:
“If every city took 10 refugee families, if every London borough took 10 families, if every county council took 10 families, if Scotland, Wales and every English region played their part, then in a month we’d have nearly 10,000 more places for vulnerable refugees fleeing danger, seeking safety.”
Wandsworth residents have been really generous themselves but they there is only so much they can do. People expect a similar big-hearted Wandsworth reaction from their Council but have been disappointed. Becoming a Borough of Sanctuary could have been a really inspirational demonstration of Wandsworth long tradition of welcome and the role which the Council can play best of coordinating services – council and voluntary – to give the best support to families who have had to flee their country. The Council and should do more.
We could do so much more than just offer a home to ten families, but it’s a start.
We could do so much more to support refugee associations than be facilitators an coordinators – but it’s a start.
We could do more to inspire London and other London Boroughs to be more ambitious in welcoming refugees than just becoming a Borough of Sanctuary – but it’s a start.
Lets step up, lets make this start and lets be leaders in London in staying true to our tradition as a Borough in welcoming refugees.
To amend this motion and take out even these small steps is shameful. Please support the motion and reject the amendment.
After a gap of two years we are excited to let you know that the Balham Food Festival is returning!
When; Sunday 27th September, 11am-6pm
Located in the recently transformed Hildreth Street and Bedford Hill Place.
There will be over 25 stalls featuring a diverse range of delicious, freshly cooked dishes from local restaurants, bars and cafés, plus gourmet cheeses, charcuterie, cakes and treats, this will be accompanied by jazz and other musical treats.
Come and enjoy the fun! There will be cooking demonstrations, music, dancing and a Kids Zone.
20 is plenty!
We’ve had a 20mph speed limit in our ward for nearly a year now, and have been campaigning for this to be across the Borough. Currently the numbers of cars and accidents is rising but the 20mph roads are just dotted about the Borough which is confusing for drivers and leaves roads less safe than with a slower speed limit. Residents were expected to petition people on their own road and achieve high amounts of signatures to ask the Council to make it 20mph.
After a long time and refusal by the Council to consider a Borough-wide limit, we saw success this week. In a U-turn and cross-party decision at the Community Services Committee, there will now be consultation on a fast track move to 20mph on all residential roads. It’ll take a few more months but could lead to a really positive change for making our roads safer as it can be better enforced and will change drivers’ behaviour.
Residents Association for Rydevale Estate and Cornford Grove
We asked the local Council to support starting a new residents association for this area (just off Bedford Hill). Local residents said they would be interested and the first meeting was held in early September and we hope it will build into an active group to take up concerns of the residents and have ideas for improvements which can be made in their area.
Local people are really concerned about road safety on Balham High Road and in August there was yet another accident involving a car and motorbike – this time outside Tescos. We’re working with parents at Rutherford House who are concerned about the entrance, and with St Anselms parents who have started a petition about safety on the High Road, longer lights for pedestrians at Tooting Bec and asking for a crossing at Elmbourne Road, and residents of Hillbury and Elmbourne Rd who also are signing a petition for traffic calming measures for their roads.
Tooting Bec Cafe
Tooting Common Cafe – new lease signed
A new lease has been signed from now until 2030 and although there are lots of rumours, we don’t yet know who the lease holder is. Whoever it is they must now renovate the cafe and include a new male and female toilet, open to the public and with baby-changing facilities.
Refugees Crisis – what can we do?
We share the concern of many residents that we should be welcoming to refugees and do what we can to support refugees already living here and arriving. The Council have said that they are ready and willing to respond to request from the Government. However we think Wandsworth could be pledging to house families and pushing other Councils to be more ambitious and welcoming through their leadership – rather than just ‘waiting and seeing’.
We are really worried about the recent accident which happened on Balham High Road involving a motorbike, and have seen several other accidents on the same stretch of road in the last year. So with your MP Sadiq Khan we have launched a petition to ask the Council and Transport for London to urgently work together to make this road safer.
Lots of people have been signing – please sign too:
In the meantime we have written and been talking with the Council, Transport for London and the local Police Commander – as a result you might have seen extra police officers at the Ritherdon Rd junction assessing the traffic along the road.
Balham Boulevard latest news
Balham High Road – could become more of a ‘Boulevard’?
A couple of years ago a plan to make Balham High Road between the Ritherdon Road and Balham a much nicer environment was brought to the Council and agreed. This ‘Balham Boulevard’ plan was to change the current four lane highway into a two lane highway with a nice side road and more greenery and a café style to the pavements – making it a nice place to come to and not just move through. This has multi-million pound backing, and agreement for happen in 2017. But no plans have come about.
Fleur went to progress meeting at the Town Hall and was very disappointed to find that there has been no progress and that Transport for London have found it too hard to make any plans for the road yet. We will both be working with local groups and other Councillors to revive the project, agree a clear vision and hope to get it back on track.
Closure of Triangle nursery
Many local parents have been very upset that the Tooting Locality Nursery at the Triangle was suddenly closed at the end of the Summer term, another sad loss of a much loved facility for under 5s in the area.
Park Run – still on its way!
Park Run have been working on a course around Tooting Common which doesn’t go over any roads, doesn’t impact too much on the busiest paths (we hope) and is the necessary 5km. The current plan is to start near the cricket pitch by Hillbury Road and go up or down the Chestnut Walk and use the bridleway. Using Chestnut Avenue may well be too busy and the grass on the other side of the lake too boggy in Winter so its still being worked on but is nearly there. All being well it should be going to committee for approval in September – so hopefully it won’t be too long until we can be getting our trainers on every Saturday morning for Tooting Commons very own ParkRun and join thousands of others all over the country.
Balham Lesuire Centre creche concerns – tell all young mums about the crèche!
Talking of facilities for under 5s, we love the refurbishment to Balham Lesuire Centre, but no need for a crèche has be buit into the contract between Enable and the Council. As a result there is no room especially designated for a crèche, no advertising of the crèche and as a result the morning facility currently in a squash court is in danger of being closed. Talks are on-going with Balham Lesuire Centre and we really hope that they continue to offer the crèche as it is vital to enabling young mums to get exercise at a time of life when too many young mums can be quite isolated.
Dr Johnson Ave closure consultation
Dr Johnson Avenue s lovely – could it be lovelier without traffic?
Do you want Dr Johnson Avenue to be closed to traffic, grassed over and be a cycle track instead of a road? Whatever you think about this – do have your say.
Residents of Elmbourne Road and Hillbury Road have felt for quite some time that traffic is increasing and getting faster and more aggressive with cyclists , other cars and even pedestrians. These are quite narrow roads with heavy traffic flow. Changes to Dr Johnson Avenue could have an impact on them, but this is an opportunity into how to make these roads safer too. We have raised this with the Council and also support the residents’ petition to the Council assessment of these rooads and options such as making them no through roads be considered.
‘Who put that there?’
All too often it is easy to forget how the day-to-day lives of the partially sighted can be so different to ours.
That is why we are extremely grateful to one Bedford resident who helped give us insight into life for the blind and partially sighted.
Did you know?
95 per cent of blind and partially sighted people have collided with an obstacle in their local neighbourhood over a three-month period.
Nearly a third of those were injured, yet less than one percent claimed compensation for injuries.
The most common obstacles collided with are:
– cars parked on pavements (70% )
– bins of all kinds (64%)
– permanent and temporary street furniture (59%)
We will be taking some walks around the ward to identify potential hazards but if you can think of any, please do get in touch!
‘Lets Talk’ and Tooting Town Centre Manager meetings
Lets Talk meetings are held regularly around Wandsworth and come to our ward every few years. Its a chance to speak directly to the Council Leader, opposition leader and lots of officers. The Bedford Ward meeting was attended by about 30 people and the issues raised included: too many betting shops, Balham creche, Elmbourne Road safety, parking and speeding, investment in ‘Tooting Bec village’, litter and street cleaning around Tooting Bec station, hedges obstructing pavements, what will replace Barclays Bank, the ‘legal high’ shop on Garratt Lane, enforcement of the 20MPH zone and what is happening to Tooting Bec Lodge. Issues for Tooting Common were: concerns about the removal of the white line and poor signage on the pedestrian/cycle track, floodlights when the triangle football pitch is renovated, rats, litter by the pond and repairs to the tennis court. Wider Borough issues raised were concerns about the lack of affordable housing and despite lots of new developments there is nowhere affordable for first/second time buyers, and what the merger of some services with Richmond council will mean for us.
Rosena and Fleur are following up on these issues, and this week raised many of them with the Tooting Centre Manager in meeting held with Sadiq Kahn MP.
Bedford Hill side of the railway bridge – an eyesore
The Bedford Hill railway bridge could do with some love and less signs, graffiti and weeds
We’ve been to look at this neglected corner of Balham with a local resident and agree with him that this is an eyesore – lots of weeds, scrubland and graffiti. We’ve been in touch with Transport for London and the Balham Partnership to ask them to look into making something much nicer of this corner of land and of the railway bridge itself.
Stapleton Road improvements
There will be some upgrading of the Tooting Bec station end of Stapleton Road with a proposal for more trees, two way cycling, café tables, cycle hoops and clearer signs at each end of the one way. The consultation for this finishes on August 3rd.
Whilst we really welcome these improvements, we are disappointed that this is all that came of a much more ambitious scheme to look at all of the streets around Tooting Bec Station as ‘Tooting Bec Village’ and see what could be done to enhance the whole area. This is really needed but seems to have been dropped.
With the finances coming for the Tooting Broadway area roads, this maybe an opportunity to look again at the streets around Tooting Bec Station. I have talked about this with the Tooting Town Manager and will continue to work on this.
A new Wandsworth wide cycling strategy is being consulted on – whatever your views on cycling, or good ideas about how to increase cycling either on specific roads or generally – do add them to the consultation here:
Air pollution is a very big issue for Londoners and kills 1400 of us every year, as well as contributing to lung and heart diseases. There is a new air quality plan for Wandsworth also out for consultation at the moment – do take some time to see if you think it could be improved or any comments you would like to make on it. The deadline is August 5th:
In other local Labour party news, we’ve recently had big increase in members – welcome if this is you! We’ve also been debating nd nominating candidates for future elections in some packed and every engaging meetings. The Tooting Labour party has endorsed Sadiq Kahn as our mayoral candidate, Yvette Cooper for the Labour leadership and Stella Creasy for the Deputy Leadership and Leonie Cooper for the Greater London Assembly elections which are next year.
Some current local issues below are: changes on Tooting Common, ‘Lets Talk’ event coming up, Tooting Bec Lodge, Not the One O’Clock club, Crime levels and issues, air pollution, Council waste of money on a ‘Golden Ticket scheme, housing issues
Some events in June:
3rd June – monthly Neighbourhood Network’s rhyme time (9 – 10) and coffee morning 10 – 1pm at the Scout Hall on the High Road – just drop in, all welcome
6th June: Rutherford House summer fair 11a, – 2.30pm
7th June -Tooting Common Dog Show and Ritherdon Road Street Party
Saturday 20th June – monthly Bedford ward drop-in surgery run by Rosena and Fleur, upstairs in Balham library 10 – 11am
Sunday 21st June 2pm Tooting Bec Lido to discuss local Road safety. ALL users welcome.
Monday 22nd June – Lets Talk event with the leader of the Council, Council Officers and your three local Councillors – your change to bring up issues, get answers and see what your neighbour’s concerns are
29th June – Tooting Common MAC Annual Public Meeting: The MAC (Management Advisory Committee) is a group of local volunteers who advise the Council on how we would like our Common to be managed, the APM was very well attended last year and Council Officers are there to report on activities and hear your issues.
Thank you!! We have now been Councillors for a year and would like to say thank you again to everyone who has supported us along the way. Its been a lot of learning, great to be able to really help so many people and support so many great local groups and people. We’ve loved it so far, and look forward to doing even more in the next year.
Changes on Tooting Common
The white line in the cycle lane segregating cyclists from pedestrians has been scrapped away and new signs put up to explain that this IS still a cycle path but pedestrians have priority. The Cafe lease for the next 15 years is being tendered for, but no news on any outcomes yet.
‘Lets Talk’ meeting, 7.30pm 22nd June at the Scout Hall on Balham High Road
Please do come to the Lets Talk event on 22nd June whether you have an issue to bring up , or are interested in local issues. It would be great to see as many people as possible – and only happens in each ward every few years. Do take this opportunity to raise issues with us your Councillors, the Council leader and officers. We’d LOVE to see you there!
Tooting Bec Lodge
The latest on the historic Lodge on Tooting Bec Road is that cotinuing concern that despite the scaffolding going up, there is still a lack of progress being made on renovating the building. The Council report that the owners is currently sourcing windows and a historically correct rendering for the plasterwork and will be continuing, but we are continuing to share our concerns and hope that the owner will share a timetable with us so that we can see what the plans are and can check progress against these.
Not the One O’Clock club
I know that lots of people are concerned that the Childrens’ Centre on the Triangle (previously a One O’clock club as a drop on stay and play centre open to all under 5s and carers from 1 – 5pm) is now a very much restricted service. It is just open on some afternoons and with much shorter sessions for certain age groups (e.g. under 1s) so parents with children of different ages can’t go. This is really disappointing and we are in discussion with the Council about this. As shown by figures I have recently asked for, as a One O’Clock club there were an average 741 users per month but now as a more targeted provision there are 277 per month. I should stress that clearly these can’t be directly compared as services, and the new centre may be able to provide some areas of provision which the One O’Clock club didn’t. But equally the new provision is clearly helping far fewer carers and parents at a time of life when the stay and play centre was a tried, tested and very successful Council provision. This would be a good issue for discussion at the ‘Lets Talk’ event.
A list of opening times and sessions at the Triangle Centre is here: http://fis.wandsworth.gov.uk/kb5/wandsworth/fsd/organisation.page?id=CvJXZjSCBQQ
Crime levels and issues
We attended the recent Safer Neighbourhood meeting and were pleased to hear how crime is low in our ward, and that the police are always very keen to hear from the community about areas they can focus on. With the hot weather coming up, everyone is reminded to keep their windows shut when they aren’t in the room. Also remember to lock your car as the number of thefts from unlocked cars is always a factor, and do call 101 if you see anything suspicious or would like to report anything which is not an emergency.
Air pollution – what do you think of the action plan?
There are two real concerns in our air and Wandsworth has been given notice to sort these areas out: high levels of nitrogen dioxide and small particles. These cause lung and heart problems and we don’t even know the long-term damage these are causing to our children. We can’t see the small particles and they are half the width of a human hair, and our body cannot get rid of them easily. They cause heart and lung disease and problems especially for the young and elderly, and can cause cancer.
Wandsworth Council have just released a draft action plan on air pollution and are asking for your comments by 5th August. http://www.wandsworth.gov.uk/info/200485/air_quality
Council waste of money on a ‘Golden Ticket scheme
Wandsworth council has just wasted thousands of pounds on nearly having a scheme to encourage recycling through being able to win £20,000 if your golden ticket is pulled out of a draw. This was going to be done jointly by Wandsworth and two local boroughs, but after going to print with leaflets for everyone, this scheme has been scrapped. Here is the story in the Evening Standard last week:
Fleur attended planning committee to speak on behalf of residents objections to converting a house in Foxborne Road into 3 flats, and agreeing with additional windows to a extension on Montana Rd which weren’t originally in the planning application. There were an unusually large number of complaints made to the Foxbourne Rd plans and Fleur emphasised these to the committee.
A lot of time in the last couple of months has been spent supporting several families who have housing difficulties, and we welcome anyone in this position to contact us as soon as possible in the process – don’t call us in as a last resort! We’ve been helping to work with the Council housing officers and even with housing offices in other Boroughs if it comes to that. We’ve had some recent good news about one family that was offered unsuitable accommodation in Birmingham but now has been offered housing locally and they are delighted.
New roles for us
Finally, this time of year is like the start of a new school year in the Council calendar and we both have new roles – Rosena is Deputy Leader of the Labour Group of Councillors and Fleur is the opposition spokesperson for Community Services.
My dog was barking like crazy in the middle of the night – but the reason was great! New 20 mph signs were being painted. It has been fantastic to see the 20MPH signs go up all over the streets in the ward. We spent a lot of time collecting the signatures for each street to reach the 25% threshold to ask the Council to consult about these plans. The response to the consultation was very much in favour, and now the residential roads in the ward are all 20MPH. These have shown in other areas in the country to encourage much safer driving, and I hope to see the same happening here.
Wheatsheaf wins again!
It is great that the Wheatsheaf pub in Tooting Bec was the place for the Government announcement of new national powers coming in next month for people to have a say in protecting their local pubs. All the thousands of local people who took part in the campaign to save the historic Wheatsheaf building should also be really proud of this. Despite huge local opposition to the threats of it becoming a supermarket, the Council dragged their feet and took over a year to agree protection measures. Sadiq Khan MP really supported the local campaign group and I’m glad to have joined so many other local people in being part of something which has made the Government take action. There is more info on this here: http://www.sadiqkhan.org.uk/wheatsheaf_campaign_makes_history
Balham Boulevard – slower progress on new plans for Balham High Road
I’ve always felt that the High Road between Tooting Bec station and Balham station is not the prettiest stretch of road and could do with some love and attention. Balham Boulevard and the creation of a more European town style stretch of road was put to the Council a while ago and it was agreed to look more into this. We really support consideration of a way of having quieter lanes at each side for cyclists, something which is both safer and nicer looking. In the last year I have seen three motorbike accidents in the stretch between Ritherdon Road and Tooting Bec station alone, and I’d love to see more trees and a more cafe style look to the pavements.
We’ve been talking with Council officers about progress and the latest update is not good, the latest news is this: ‘The Balham Boulevard Plans are being led by TfL as it sits on their network. We have now been informed that they have had difficulties in designing segregated cycle lanes in this location due to the potential conflicts with traffic turning in and out of the numerous side roads. As a result they have concluded that the cyclists can be more safely accommodated in wider bus lanes. In addition, following requests to look at traffic movements at the junction of Balham High Road and Balham Station Road, they have incorporated that work into the wider Balham Boulevard project. This has set back the design process while they are redrawing the brief for the project. TfL has not yet confirmed the revised timetable, but I suspect we will not see any designs until late Summer, with possible consultation in the Autumn 2015.’
We will keep working with the Council to involve as many local people as possible in these plans and create an area which is both useful for traffic and nicer for everyone.
Tooting Common Cafe – could a community group take on the new lease?
Tooting Common Cafe – could a community group take it on?
The lease for this cafe has come up for renewal, for 15 years. Some renovation and creation of public access toilets is part of the new terms (good news!). I’m part of a community group which has just been formed to see if we could put a bid together in quite a short time to take on the lease. For more information contact me or see the group on Twitter: @TootComCafCo – we’d love more people to join!
Transition Town Tooting hustings
It is election season and there are many hustings and other election meetings taking place. I went to one recently organised by Transition Town Tooting, a group promoting sustainable living and community in the area. Lots of people came and shared ideas for how our area could be improved, from really affordable housing, supporting small businesses, stopping littering, more community-minded planning decisions and more.
Traffic, litter, pavements, housing issues and more – get in touch!
We’ve regularly visit different streets to speak to as many people as possible, and many people have been raising issues about housing problems, littering and fly tipping and traffic issues in their streets which we’re working on to resolve with the Council. These are good examples of some of the issues that we as Councillors can represent your views and concerns to the Council – so do contact us about these and other issues.
We have monthly surgery at Balham Library on the this Saturday of each month from 10 – 11am – no appointment needed. Do email us too:
Exciting things are afoot in Balham town centre! Sitting on the Balham town centre board, I have been able to hear about all the great work that has been done thus far, as well as find out about the opening/ completion of some wonderful communal spaces due in the early summer.
There is a great town centre feeling in Balham and Valentines day last month was a huge success with a “feel good” factor off the scale as wonderful red balloons lined the streets.
Here is a picture of a sight inspection of the area outside Sainsbury on Bedford Hill. Hopefully this space will see some live music, food festivals and many other community activities.
Thursday 5th March saw a very exciting event held in Tooting, hosted by Sadiq Khan. The aim was to gather lots of local women of all ages and celebrate International Women’s Day. There were members of the local community, faith groups and sixth form students. What a lovely, friendly and interesting mix of ladies.
It was a fantastic turnout and after a few short speeches, where some of us councillors shared our stories, it was over to the group discussions. We covered topics such as how to improve political engagement and we celebrated how far we have come in hundred years.
With many new voters in our community, some of the younger attendees felt that eighteen year olds may not vote as they cannot identify with the politicians they see in the media. We discussed the importance of improving the number of women role models in politics and all agreed that without using our votes, we cannot see more women in power.
International Women’s Day event attendees.
It was a throughly inspirational morning and topped off perfectly with a lovely cup of tea!
Its been a really busy month for us – but I would say that for every month!
There have been some been changes across the Borough and especially the move towards merging with Richmond Borough, and changes locally with lower crime figures announced, work on Tooting Common Heritage project and a make-over announced for Stapleton Road. News on the new 20 MPH zone, Tooting Athletics Track, Tooting Common Cafe, Balham Lesuire Centre Creche, Balham Boulevard and Tooting Lodge and Battersea Sport Centre is all below.
March Dates for your diary
The second Tooting International Women’s Day coffee morning hosted by Sadiq Khan MP will be on Thursday 5th March at 11am at Mushkil Aasaan, 220 Tooting High Road. There will be cake and chat with lots of local women. It was really inspiring last year and everyone – including babies and children – is very welcome.
This Wednesday (4th March) is the next Neighbourhood Network Coffee morning from 10am – 1pm in the Scout Hut on Balham High road and free toddler Rhyme Time from 9.30 – 10am.
Next Labour Councillors surgery: 21st March from 10am – 11am at Balham Library. No appointment needed – just drop in.
The general election is less than 10 weeks away. Are you registered to vote? If not, you can register online at www.gov.uk
The 20 MPH limit zone will come into force in March – but signs won’t be put up until later, which doesn’t entirely make sense so we’ll be pushing for some signs to show the new situation as soon as possible. We’re really proud of this campaign to bring the 20MPH zone to our area, and all the hours of asking local people and collecting signatures have been really worthwhile. What’s more, the National Institute for Health and Care Excellence (NICE)’s February briefing published further guidance showing how effective 20 MPH zones are in encouraging road safety and especially in protecting children and young people. We’ll keep working with the council to make sure that it does work in this way for us. Make-over for Stapleton Road – and could it be your road too?
Cllr Rosena Allin-Khan, Sadiq Kahn MP, Cllr Fleur Anderson and Stapleton Road resident Joel Down
In 2013 a consultation was held on the creation of a ‘Tooting Bec village’. A list of proposals have been put together and these include the introduction of a contra-flow cycle lane, cycle parking outside Tooting Bec tube station, improving the signage for the one-way system already in place to make sure it is followed, de-cluttering the street by removing some street furniture and widening and improving the footpaths along the whole length of the road. There will be some trees built along the road too!
The council will be in touch soon to consult residents’ views of these proposals, and we would encourage everyone to make sure you have your say. If the majority of residents support the plans, we will start seeing the work begin this summer.
However there is one concern that the council’s proposals does not address. We know there are concerns that residents in the area, within the same parking zone, are parking on Stapleton Road to access the station – which means there isn’t space for residents to park on their own road. This needs to be tackled and we have called on the council to review the matter. The council have asked for evidence that this is a concern to Stapleton Road residents, before they’ll conduct any investigations. If you agree that parking on your road is a problem, please visit www.sadiqkhan.org.uk_Stapleton_Road_Parking and add your support for a review.
Poisoning of dogs on Tooting Common? We have heard the rumours of the dog poisonings near the Triangle Area of the Common, and it was mentioned in an article in The Spectator, I had sought information from the local police and Council officers but they had not had reports about these, and we discussed this in the Management Advisory Committee of the Tooting Common meeting recently. Since then other local members of the committee have followed up with local vets and we are seeking to find out more about whether these happened and exactly where. If you have any information or have reason to be suspicious please do call 101, and everyone should be extra careful around that area but is a real concern to all users of the Common.
Tooting Common Heritage Project
I joined many other local representatives of groups at a consultation meeting last week. A 10 year management plan for the Common is being worked on, and there will be money to pay for new ideas from the Heritage Lottery Fund. There was an on-line and household survey, consultation meetings and they want to hear your views in any way they can! What would you like to see happening to improve the Common? They would really love to see any historical photos of the Common too.
To receive the newsletter, for more info on these events and to send in your old pictures or views on the Common, do get in touch by email with Andrew Harby, the project facilitator, at email@example.com
Our area IS a Safer Neighbourhood – but watch out for postal theft on Heritage Park At the Safer Neighbourhood meeting we were pleased to hear of lower crime rates in the ward and congratulations t the local police team. There are concerns about theft from post boxes on Heritage Park. Not only theft of items delivered, but information that can be used for identity theft. Please be extra aware of this and call 101 if you see anything suspicious.
Merger with Richmond Council? There are plans to merge administrative functions of the two Councils. There would still be two elected sets of Councillors making decisions separately, and separate frontline staff that we would see in our own Town Halls and areas, but other staff and services for the two may be merged to make cost reductions. This will be discussed at the Council meeting on Wednesday March 4th and much more about the impact of these plans must be made known. You can find out more and feed into the consultations on the consultation page of the Wandsworth Council website or with the link here: https://consult.wandsworth.gov.uk/KMS/dmart.aspx?strTab=PublicDMartCurrent&NoIP=1
Tooting Athletics Track latest news Public concern did change council policy. Following the large petition received by the Council will huge concern about keeping the track affordable, the Council are still opening the lease for tender but will be keeping control of the prices. Obviously no guarantee but a far better option.
Balham Lesuire centre creche
The creche at Balham lesuire centre is saved!
Thanks to some fast action by local mums, we’ve been able to raise the potential issue of the creche closing after the refurbishment with the council an lesuire centre. As a result it is promised that the creche will be moved and continue to be offered. However, user numbers are far lower that they should be given demand and need for this service. I used to use this creche so know how fantastic it is to have this and how popular it used to be in when it was in a more prominent position. So we will keep working with local mums and asking that: 1. It should be reopened after the refurbishment 2. It should be better publicised so that more parents can use this, especially when the newly refurbished lesuire centre is being publicised 3. The new room should be able to have a crèche which opens for more hours if demand increases.
Cllr Fleur Anderson and Cllr Rex Osborn deploring the crumbling state of the Lodge a few months ago – nothing much has changed
The lovely little white gardeners lodge on Tooting High Road remains in a state of disrepair and building works by the owner seem to have ground to a halt. The deadline of the repairs notice from the Council is in March and we will be urging the Council to make an immediate assessment and be prepared to take the action needed to save the lodge.
Tooting Common Cafe – new lease is up for tender
Could this be a community cafe!
The new lease is for 15 years and includes be able to improve the cafe site and add toilets (phew). There will be a rolling short-term lease to the current owner until the new leaseholder (or the current one) takes it on. In the meantime community bids and others are all very welcome. http://propertylink.estatesgazette.com/property-details/5947975-tooting-bec-common-cafe-tooting-bec-common-london-sw12-9hj
Plans to improve the road between Balham and Tooting Bec Stations have gone quiet, but are being prepared for consultation with residents soon – early in 2015 was the plan. It is a priority for us to get this to happen and to involve the whole community so we’ll be meeting the Council officers and watch this space for the new plans for a people friendly space.
Battersea Sports Centre
This is far away from our area of Balham and Tooting, but I’m on the Committee which had to decide about the future of this fantastic sports centre in an area of Battersea which really needs this sports and community centre and doesn’t have anything like it. I was so impressed to hear about how the centre has become a centre for excellence in Basketball and many other sports, offers sports for all ages, and is really popular with young people. Building a community is more extreely valuable and once taken away can’t be replaced. The reason given was is to provide homes for the people from the neighbouring Winstanly Estate whilst it is being redeveloped – but this could have been done in other ways as was orginally planned. The true value of the Sports Centre to the community centre was just not given priority. There were excellent representations to the Committee and a packed public gallery, but Conservative members of the committee decided to close the sports centre and it was hugely disappointing. However, the campaign continues and I hope will be sucessful in changing this decision.
The best news is that Rosena had a baby girl last month, Layla Maria, and they are both doing really well.
Do you use Tooting Common at all?
Have you got a few minutes to fill in this questionnaire? It would be great to get as many responses as possible to get feedback on how the Council can improve the Common. I’ve filled it and included a request for public toilets near the playground. The deadline is February 6th.
Lots of local residents were annoyed at the amount of time we were all dodging Christmas trees on the pavements this year, and that trees weren’t collected from front gardens even when they finally went from the streets. I’ve been passing on lots of emails and complaints and hope that next year we can have more information about when they will actually be taken to avoid this happening again. The Council do a great job of clearing 139,000 trees in a fortnight, but with better information this could be a better service.
More, closer surgeries and ways to be in touch with us
Up to now Councillors surgeries have been held in far-off Tooting Library, but we’ve wanted to have much more opportunities for anyone to contact us. We’re very active at responding to emails, meeting with residents and going and speaking with people on the doorsteps most weekends (last weekend we were speaking with residents of Carminia and Childebert Roads, during the week we will be visiting Larch Close). We’re also on twitter: @DrRosena and @CllrFleur
Now we’ve started monthly surgeries at Balham library – do just come along. Our first surgery was last Saturday, and future dates are from 11am – 12 noon on Saturday February 21st, Saturday March 21st and April 18th.
Its not closing! The leaseholders were Antic but they gave up their lease at the end of Janaury and the owenrs, Enterprize, have given assurances that another company will be taking on the lease (maybe Youngs?) and that it will continue to be our community pub.
More information is here: http://www.sadiqkhan.org.uk/future_of_much_loved_pub_is_safe_owners_reassure_sadiq
Tooting Bec Lesuire Centre refurbishment – what about the creche?
Tooting Bec Lesuire centre is due to be refurbished very soon and I’m really looking forward to the resulting improvements in the changing rooms and the addition of a sauna. However future plans for the creche are less clear as the current creche room will be used for something else in the current plans. At the request of local mums who are only able to use the Lesuire centre because of the creche I am following up on this.
No ParkRun Yet
Since the decision that ParkRun could start organising runs on the Common and wouldn’t need to pay, ParkRun haven’t progressed this with the Council yet so there is no sign of these starting soon – unfortunately.
Family offered accommodation in West Bromwich
As featured in the Wandsworth Guardian this week, some local families are indeed being offered accomodation in the West Midlands despite having no connection there at all. I’ve been supporting a family facing this traumatic ‘offer’ which will break up the family and take the mum away from studies and her job, childcare, support networks and chance to support her family.
Action to repair the Lodge on Tooting Bec Road
There has been a lot of concern about the lovely, old white building on Tooting Bec Road which used to be a garden centre, was bought by a developer some years ago and seems to be falling into disrepair. Following public pressure, the Council has now served a notice requiring the owner to carry out urgent repairs or face the prospect of legal action. Workmen have since been seen on the roof – watch this space, and do add any news of work if you see it in the comments below.